HOGAN SIGNS $1.2B RELIEF ACT: When Gov. Larry Hogan put pen to paper on Monday afternoon and signed the RELIEF Act into law, he triggered a series of maneuvers that will enable hundreds of thousands of state residents to get stimulus payments and many businesses to get tax breaks, Pamela Wood of the Sun reports.
- The passage of a roughly $1.2 billion bill Friday, in less than a month, is one of the few bright spots in a young 2021 session for the second-term Republican governor, who watched last week as the overwhelming Democratic majorities overrode his vetoes on every major bill passed last year. Hogan wasted no time taking a shared victory lap, Bryan Sears of the Daily Record reports.
- The bill includes grants for restaurants, hotels, entertainment venues, agricultural businesses and nonprofits; money for people struggling to pay rent or utility bills; grants for people waiting on pending unemployment benefits; and money schools can use to expand tutoring and summer school, Rachel Baye reports for WYPR-FM.
SCHRADER OUTLINES VACCINE ROLLOUT, STOKES FURTHER CRITICISM: Dennis Schrader, Maryland’s acting health secretary, on Monday outlined to legislators a two-week breakdown of four counties’ allocation of COVID-19 vaccine in response to questions about local health departments’ declining allotments. But the presentation, intended to provide a more complete picture into the state’s plan, stoked continued criticism of the vaccine rollout, Hallie Miller reports for the Sun.
CDC RECOMMENDS VAXX FOR REPORTERS IN PHASE 1C: The Centers for Disease Control recommends that reporters be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 1C of distribution but Maryland has not yet begun to prioritize members of that profession for vaccination, writes Bryan Renbaum for Maryland Reporter. “While our highest priority right now is vaccinating seniors and the severely immunocompromised, we have heard from a number of the members of the media interested in getting vaccinated,” Gov. Larry Hogan’s communications director, Michael Ricci, in an email on Monday.
FEWEST SINGLE-DAY COVID CASES REPORTED SINCE OCT. 2020: Maryland health officials reported 722 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, the fewest for a single day since Oct. 26, along with 26 more deaths associated with the virus. The state has reported fewer than 1,200 new cases for eight straight days and has been below that mark for 11 of the past 15 days, Nathan Ruiz of the Sun reports.
- Maryland’s seven-day COVID-19 positivity rate has fallen below 5%. The metric was at 4.53% as of Monday morning compared to 5.67% a week ago. All three Lower Eastern Shore counties are now equal to or below the state’s average. With Wicomico County at 4.09%, Worcester County at 4.53% and Somerset County at 4.12%, these rates have dropped substantially over the past week, Rose Velazquez reports for the Salisbury Daily Times.
ARUNDEL PRIVATE SCHOOL TEACHERS OUT OF VAXX LOOP: In Anne Arundel County, the health department hadn’t begun vaccinating teachers in earnest until Thursday, when public school teachers lined up on a cold day to get vaccinated at Severna Park High School. But unlike some other jurisdictions, Anne Arundel County has not set up a dedicated registration or clinic for school teachers outside the public school system, making vaccine access a frustrating process, Danielle Ohl of the Capital Gazette reports.
EASING WAY TO SUE ABUSIVE POLICE OFFICERS: Lawmakers seeking to tighten police accountability in Maryland have also set their sights on civil lawsuits, with legislation that would make it easier to sue officers — and localities — for police misconduct, Ovetta Wiggins of the Post is reporting.
- Del. Jheanelle K. Wilkins (D-Montgomery) has introduced legislation that seeks to address police abuse incidents. She is sponsoring the Police Qualified Immunity and Accountability Act, which would allow people abused by police to pursue civil lawsuits against officers for physical and emotional damages incurred during police encounters, Hannah Gaskill of Maryland Matters reports.
BILL LIMITING CHILD MARRIAGE AGAIN INTRODUCED: State Del. Vanessa Atterbeary again introduced a bill this session to raise the minimum age for marriage in Maryland — an effort that has failed for five consecutive years. Atterbeary, D-Howard, and state Sen. Sarah Elfreth, D-Annapolis, filed the bill the sixth time requiring teenagers to be at least 17 years old to get legally married, Lilly Price reports in the Capital Gazette.
TRANSPORTATION ELECTRIFICATION: The Transportation & Climate Initiative (TCI) is a regional collaboration of 12 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia that seeks to improve transportation, develop the clean energy economy, and reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. Learn more about the group’s priorities and plans during the Maryland Clean Energy Center’s 2021 Policy Watch Series on February 22, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM. Advance registration is required.
BILL REGULATES SCHOOL BUS CAPACITY: A bill that regulates school bus capacity has passed through the House of Delegates, a first for newly appointed Del. Dana Jones, a Democrat from Annapolis. The bill now heads to the Senate, Olivia Sanchez of the Capital Gazette reports.
EMMITSBURG TO GET WATER INFRASTRUCTURE UPGRADES: Sen. Michael Hough has helped secure $1 million in the state’s capital budget to pay for water infrastructure improvements in Emmitsburg, Steve Bohnel of the Frederick News-Post reports. The money will be used for a water clarifier, which — if the General Assembly passes Gov. Larry Hogan’s (R) budget — would be installed west of town, near a water treatment structure near Crystal Fountain Road.
STATE OFFERING FARMS MANURE MANAGEMENT FUNDING: The Maryland Department of Agriculture has announced that $10 million in conservation assistance is now available to help livestock farmers in northern Maryland counties install best management practices on their farms to improve manure management and protect water quality in streams, rivers and the Chesapeake Bay, the Garrett County Republican reports.
COLUMN: A DISCUSSION WITH JAMIE RASKIN: Post columnist Jennifer Rubin speaks with U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the House’s lead impeachment manager in the Senate trial of former President Donald Trump. He speaks about a wide range of issues involved in the trial, including the defense case, the videos used, Sen. Mitch McConnell’s concession after the acquittal and the high emotions.
MD WOMEN’s RIGHTS GROUP SEEKS TO STRIKE DRAFT EXCLUSION: A Maryland women’s rights group is urging the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down as unconstitutional a federal requirement that only men register for the military draft. The Women’s Law Center of Maryland Inc. has joined a high court brief that derides the men-only mandate as being based on “invidious stereotypes and archaic generalizations” that treat women as second-class citizens in violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under the law, Steve Lash reports in the Daily Record.